We live in a digital age. The swipe of a finger, the click of a mouse, or the activation of a voice-controlled device. The luxury of modern conveniences are a force to be reckoned with. Individuals who are not in the Information Technology field may not know the level of risk they face when using their cellphones, swiping their credit/debit cards at local stores, or connecting any device to the internet. While many companies now have cyber security teams to protect their information from being hacked, it appears to have been an afterthought for many of them. The susceptibility of data breaches is offering a bevy of potential jobs to be explored. The cyber security profession will prove to be lucrative.
College students and career professionals who wish to enter or transition into the cyber security field have several options to do so.
Cyber Security Education…
- Associate’s Degree. This degree takes approximately two years to complete and will equip you with basic cyber security skills such as: safe software development, IT administration, network security, and cloud technology.
- Bachelor’s Degree. Most IT Bachelor’s programs lay the foundation of IT fundamentals and offer a concentration on cyber security curriculum. This degree is more comprehensive than an associate’s degree and it enables a student to develop a deeper knowledge of the cyber security field in about four years.
- Master’s Degree. A Master’s program is perfect for a professional already in the IT field who wants to gain in-depth knowledge of cyber security principles and practices. This credential may also be important for professionals who want to advance their career in the field, or want to teach IT.
- Certification Programs. Some technical schools, nonprofits, and universities offer shorter technical courses that teach specifically for the certification tests. There are several ways to find the right program to enter. If you search for cyber security certification programs on google, a whole host of options appear. It is up to you to decide which program fits your budget and needs.
- Self-paced Studying. Earning a degree is not the only way for you to work in the cyber security field. If you already have a working knowledge of networking and have a natural aptitude for systems administration, you can purchase study tools and use free resources to help you pass the certification test. Amazon has free kindle books and affordable options at your disposable. It is critical to test yourself after learning a new concept. Take several practice exams and study the questions and answers on the tests.
Don’t forget to continue your studies, as you must take yearly or biennially exams to recertify your credentials.
After completing your studies, there are several certification options for cyber security professionals.
Make sure you are committed to working in the cyber security field, as the certifications are costly. The ComptTIA Security+ certification can cost up to $330 to take the exam. The GSEC exam cost is even higher from $739 to $1,699.
- CEH: CertifiedEthical Hacker.
- CISM: CertifiedInformation Security
- CompTIA Security+
- CISSP: CertifiedInformation Systems Security
- GSEC: SANS GIAC SecurityEssentials
Learning by doing is critical for retaining the information you were taught. Furthermore, it is important to cultivate your skills through internship opportunities. All too often, students rely on the information they learn in the classroom to get them through real-life problems and scenarios. However, not every classroom situation taught is conducive to operating in reality. Work with your institutional or program advisors to help place you in an internship opportunity. If you did not go the more traditional education route by teaching yourself, don’t worry you still have options. There are several ways to find internships on your own. Websites like Glass Door, Indeed, and LinkedIn can assist in the search process. Type in the location and the type of internship you want and start applying. You can also search for internships at companies you may want to work for. Simply look-up internship opportunities in the “careers” section of the company’s website. There may even be a specific tab for internships within the career section.
A search example could be: Cyber security Internship. Next, look up the criteria for the internship and see if you fit within the parameters.
An additional way to search for internship opportunities is to network with industry professionals. LinkedIn is a phenomenal resource to engage with professionals. When adding a cybersecurity industry professional, be sure to send a message or “note” when you send an invitation. Examples: “Hi Ms. Smith, I see that you work for X company. Do you have any advice or suggestions for someone who is new to the tech field and looking for internship opportunities?”
There are several pathways to enter the cyber security field and as threats increase, jobs will continue to be in demand! Your talent and enthusiasm could be just what companies need!
Authored by Chelsea Gioffre